Hope is ever the thing with feathers, and feathers abound here.

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THE TURNAWAY GIRLS

In a land where music belongs solely to Masters, a 12-year-old girl dares to sing.

Cloistered with the other turnaway girls, Delphernia Undersea knows her place is to be quiet and invisible and her role to obediently transform the Masters’ music into gold—a process called “making shimmer.” But somewhere between knowing her place and actually keeping it, Delphernia not only cannot make shimmer, but she flouts Mother Nine’s warnings that the sea swallows girls with singer throats and sings secretly at night, molding her voice’s bright notes into fluttering golden birds. When a strange Master chooses to take her with him as part of the Festival of Bells, Delphernia is suddenly thrust into a dangerous world of music, royalty, unearthed secrets, and freedom in the form of a pale, defiant trans girl named Linna. Music and secrets, in fact, are in the very bones of this debut novel. Chewins’ unhurried, first-person narration by a brown-skinned, curly-haired protagonist deftly reveals a tapestry of magic, power, and rebellion thread by ethereal thread. Questions of stratified gender roles, corruption, and what happens when a society stops asking questions fit with (and even enhance) Chewins’ tale of music, magic, and self-discovery. An abrupt conclusion is the only piece that feels out of place, distracting precisely because readers will have been utterly mesmerized by the rest of the narrative.

Hope is ever the thing with feathers, and feathers abound here. (Fantasy. 10-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 9, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7636-9792-1

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Aug. 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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An endearing protagonist runs the first, fast leg of Reynolds' promising relay.

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GHOST

From the Track series , Vol. 1

Castle “Ghost” Cranshaw feels like he’s been running ever since his dad pulled that gun on him and his mom—and used it.

His dad’s been in jail three years now, but Ghost still feels the trauma, which is probably at the root of the many “altercations” he gets into at middle school. When he inserts himself into a practice for a local elite track team, the Defenders, he’s fast enough that the hard-as-nails coach decides to put him on the team. Ghost is surprised to find himself caring enough about being on the team that he curbs his behavior to avoid “altercations.” But Ma doesn’t have money to spare on things like fancy running shoes, so Ghost shoplifts a pair that make his feet feel impossibly light—and his conscience correspondingly heavy. Ghost’s narration is candid and colloquial, reminiscent of such original voices as Bud Caldwell and Joey Pigza; his level of self-understanding is both believably childlike and disarming in its perception. He is self-focused enough that secondary characters initially feel one-dimensional, Coach in particular, but as he gets to know them better, so do readers, in a way that unfolds naturally and pleasingly. His three fellow “newbies” on the Defenders await their turns to star in subsequent series outings. Characters are black by default; those few white people in Ghost’s world are described as such.

An endearing protagonist runs the first, fast leg of Reynolds' promising relay. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 30, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4814-5015-7

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Caitlyn Dlouhy/Atheneum

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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DRAMA

From award winner Telgemeier (Smile, 2010), a pitch-perfect graphic novel portrayal of a middle school musical, adroitly capturing the drama both on and offstage.

Seventh-grader Callie Marin is over-the-moon to be on stage crew again this year for Eucalyptus Middle School’s production of Moon over Mississippi. Callie's just getting over popular baseball jock and eighth-grader Greg, who crushed her when he left Callie to return to his girlfriend, Bonnie, the stuck-up star of the play. Callie's healing heart is quickly captured by Justin and Jesse Mendocino, the two very cute twins who are working on the play with her. Equally determined to make the best sets possible with a shoestring budget and to get one of the Mendocino boys to notice her, the immensely likable Callie will find this to be an extremely drama-filled experience indeed. The palpably engaging and whip-smart characterization ensures that the charisma and camaraderie run high among those working on the production. When Greg snubs Callie in the halls and misses her reference to Guys and Dolls, one of her friends assuredly tells her, "Don't worry, Cal. We’re the cool kids….He's the dork." With the clear, stylish art, the strongly appealing characters and just the right pinch of drama, this book will undoubtedly make readers stand up and cheer.

Brava!  (Graphic fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-545-32698-8

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Graphix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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